The incidence of adverse events and risk factors for upper gastrointestinal disorders associated with meloxicam use amongst 19,087 patients in general practice in England: cohort study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Jul;50(1):35-42. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2000.00229.x.


Aims: Meloxicam is a novel nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which may be associated with fewer adverse upper gastrointestinal events than other NSAIDs because it preferentially inhibits the inducible enzyme cyclo-oxygenase-2 relative to the constitutive isoform, cyclo-oxygenase-1. The aims of the study were to: determine the rate of adverse events associated with meloxicam in general practice, stratify these rates by selected risk factors, and to identify signals of previously unsuspected adverse events associated with meloxicam.

Methods: As part of the national prescription-event monitoring pharmacovigilance system for newly launched drugs in general practice, all patients prescribed meloxicam in England between December 1996 and March 1997 were identified by the central Prescription Pricing Authority. We sent short questionnaires to all prescribers asking about adverse events experienced within 6 months of the first prescription.

Results: There were 19 087 patients in the study. The rate of dyspepsia during the first month of exposure was 28.3 per 1000 patient-months. There were 33 reports of upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage during treatment (rate: 0.4 per 1000 months). A history of gastrointestinal disorder in the previous year was associated with an increased rate of dyspepsia (rate ratio: 3.0; 95% confidence interval: 2.6, 3.4), abdominal pain (2.1; 1.6, 2.6), and peptic ulcer (4.0; 1.4, 13.2). Prior NSAID use was associated with a 20-30% decrease in the rate of dyspepsia and abdominal pain in patients starting meloxicam, while patients prescribed concomitant gastroprotective agents had a two to three-fold increased rate of dyspepsia, abdominal pain and peptic ulceration. Other rare events were thrombocytopenia (n = 2); interstitial nephritis (n = 1) and idiosyncratic liver abnormalities (n = 1).

Conclusions: In the absence of gastro-intestinal risk factors the incidence of gastro-intestinal disturbance was low. Such risk factors should be carefully reviewed prior to prescribing meloxicam.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Drug Monitoring
  • England / epidemiology
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Meloxicam
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Thiazines / adverse effects*
  • Thiazoles / adverse effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Thiazines
  • Thiazoles
  • Meloxicam